Site clearance is halted over nesting bird concerns

TREE clearance at a northern development site has abruptly halted due to bird nesting concerns.

The States of Guernsey funded the purchase of Kenilworth Vinery to allow the Guernsey Housing Association to develop housing on the site.

But neighbours have been getting angry at trees being removed in the midst of bird nesting season.

Bookkeeper Michael Wright lives in the property that backs onto the removal site.

‘We rescued one bird and put it back out there. It was a young fledgling blackbird.’

He has lived in his home for almost 30 years and Mr Wright

said they would not be able to sell the property at this point if they tried. The trees previously provided some privacy for the garden but now only a small fence is in place.

His mother, Sheila Wright, was disappointed to see the impact it was having on birds.

‘There were so many birds nesting there. I was so upset I asked [the workers] if they realised they had just killed a load of birds,’ she said.

Local barmaid Chelsea Marley said she had noticed an increase in the number of birds coming into her garden since the tree clearance began.

‘I’m not that happy – there has been a lot of wildlife that has been in those trees but now there is lots coming into our garden,’ she said.

Guernsey Housing Association chief executive Steve Williams said clearance work had been going on at the site since November, which has included removing pampas grass.

‘It’s quite a big job, because it’s quite a big site,’ he said.

The lagoon is on the north side of the site, with plants and trees around it. But it will have to all be removed to allow for a new main access from Braye Road.

Mr Williams said the area was so overgrown they had been struggling to make plans, which was why the clearance was needed.

He became aware of public concerns on Sunday evening and GHA staff had been on site yesterday.

‘We have no evidence that birds are nesting, such as nests on the ground, but we have told them to stop that work for the time being, just in case,’ he said.

He said they hoped to restart the clearance work at the end of June, when the bird nesting season ends.

The site already had a development framework, which showed the area would be used for housing. Mr Williams said they hoped to submit a planning application for the site in July, but the current work did not require permission.

There are no protected trees on the site, which would require permission to trim or remove.

The site is set to have key worker, partially ownership and rental properties. Mr Williams said the site would also include green space, including a green corridor for a footpath and cycle path.

‘We will be doing a lot of planting in due course.’

Deputy Neil Inder, who lives in the Vale, contacted Development & Planning president Victoria Oliver and Environment & Infrastructure president Lindsay De Sausmarez on the matter, but was yet to receive a response.

‘It was quite a surprise to see that all the brambles and bird cover had been taken down in nesting season,’ he said.

‘We talk about biodiversity every day and you go and stick a digger through it.’

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